Thursday, February 14, 2013

Psalm 134 – A Benediction of Blessing

“Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!”
— Psalm 134:1 (NRSV).
Now we reach the culmination of the Songs of Ascent. The dizzying heights have been reached; the pilgrimage completed; the blessings of God’s Presence enjoyed in the Assembly.
This psalm—as we recollect—is the surmounted joy of returning those joys: the Ministers-of-the-Faith to their Lord.
Present at the Crescendo
The very best part of any performance is the climaxing crescendo—a chrysanthemum of acclamation where the highlights are relived in a moment of cup-running-over ecstasy.
This should, by theoretical accounts, comprise the emotion in believers’ hearts at the end of worship services, upon the final song; the crescendo arrived at after an edifying message in entreating challenge and bloated with encouragement.
When we are present at such a time as this we’re reminded once more that our reluctance to make the pilgrimage to this particular church service, or any “ascension,” was the devil talking.
Pilgrimage is an important precondition of enjoying the crescendo—such thrills of modern experience are unavailable to those who do not journey.
The Journey of 1000 Miles...
We know how this ends.
Yet, despite our knowledge that the Mount cannot be ascended by way of fixating on the plan, we still often do just that. We plan and ponder and deliberate, yet the decision remains undecided.
The first footstep taken precedes the next and so on. The biggest temptation, early on, is to look back and consider a return. We call it “cold feet,” for fear of the unknown. Still, we continue trudging forward, up the incline we’re on, ever onward the path to blessing.
This journey of one thousand theoretical miles may as well be the nearest or furthest of destinations; it matters little. The sweetest, yet longest, journey is inward to the essential self. Then we find that long pilgrimage presents as a homecoming as we identify the benediction.
The Purpose in Benedictions
Getting us underway is the purpose of a rally.
These events instil in us the collective bearing of faith and the fellowship of one church under the Lord. We gather for mutual encouragement and enjoyment.
But then, there is the breakaway: the purpose of congregation is to give meaning to ministry apart. Freshly inspired and motivated the throng become a dramatic dispersion, as the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)—goes out all over the globe by the ministers of God, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Benediction:
May the LORD, the Maker of all things, in heaven and over and above the earth, bless you from Mount Zion—the City of God—from Jesus, the Mediator of a New and Perfect Covenant.
— Psalms 128:5 / 134:3 / Hebrews 12:22-24
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

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